Sigtuna pastor calls for society to ‘listen’

After the memorial held on Saturday for the two murdered boys in Sigtuna, north of Stockholm, pastor Ann-Marie Johansson called for more communication.

Sigtuna pastor calls for society to 'listen'

“We must dare to ask for help without being ashamed. And we must dare to listen to others’ cries for help.”

Every seat was filled at the memorial service, held in Sätuna Church in Märsta. Both children and adults had come, to light candles and honour the memories of the murdered children. Pastor Ann-Marie Johansson had put together several psalms she thought appropriate for the situation, including “Rock of ages, cleft for me.”

During the ceremony, she asked the question: “How should we honour the memory of these boys?” The answer was to learn to ask for help, and heed calls for help when we perceive them.

“Sometimes the calls may be weak, uncertain, or inarticulate, but we must learn to listen, and ask ourselves, ‘What was this person trying to express?'” said Ann-Marie Johansson to news agency TT after the ceremony.

But the responsibility is two-sided.

“When someone feels that ‘this won’t work any longer’, they too must be able to see that they’re losing their balance.”

If a call for help doesn’t feel heard, don’t give up, suggested Ann-Marie Johansson.

“Sometimes we fail in asking for help, but then we must try again.”

After the ceremony, many churchgoers continued down to the water.

The two boys, aged four and eight, were found dead in the waters of a Sigtuna lake on September 19. Their mother confessed to having killed them on Thursday.

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.